Language and Society: What is Sociolinguistics.

Linguistics / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
An analysis of language and the role it plays in society. A look at the field of sociolinguistics.

Language is one of the most powerful emblems of social behavior. The relationship of language and society puts forward a field of study called sociolinguistics. It is the study of relationships between language and society with the goal being a better understanding of the structure of language and how languages function in communication. This paper discusses what sociolinguistics is all about, looks at language, dialects, gender differences in speech and the issues of language and culture.
“When two people communicate with each other, we call the system of communication they use language. In the normal transfer of information they also send vital social messages about who they are, where they come from, and with whom they are associated. To point out how much there is to say about language and society, let me refer to an example used by R.A.Hudson in Sociolinguistics. It pertains to a society of about 10, 000 Indians that occupy an area half in Brazil, half in Columbia. These Indians are divided in twenty tribes, which are grouped in five phratries. There are three crucial facts about this society that are subject to interest and present the relationship between society and language. First of all, each tribe speaks different language. Second, the five phratries are exogamous, which means that a man cannot marry a woman from the same phratry. Considering these two facts, we easily come to the following linguistic consequence: a man’s wife must speak different language. The third crucial fact is that marriage is patriocal. A rule states that the woman speaks to her children using only her husband’s language. The linguistic consequence is that a mother teaches her children a language she speaks as a foreigner (thus one can hardly call the children’s first language their mother tongue). This Indian community can be referred to as a sociolinguistic phenomenon. It is the perfect example for the complicated relationship language-societyand a clear answer to the question why we need sociolinguistics.”

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